Bran the Builder is one of the most important characters in all of Game of Thrones. You can’t be blamed if you haven’t thought much about him, as he’s only ever really mentioned in passing. In fact, the show only mentions him in stories, and references some of the structures he’s built, including the Wall.
Bran the Builder is actually far more important than simply being the founder of House Stark and the builder of the wall. He’s, in essence, responsible for everything that is currently happening in Westeros. Although much of his accomplishments are questioned, Bran the Builder was the one who helped protect the realm of the living from the Long Night the first time the White Walkers rose.
There are several fan theories that include Bran the Builder. This is the case because of how important his character is and how little we know about him. If he existed in our world, Bran the Builder would be a Greek legend or a religious figure at best. In the world of Game of Thrones, it’s far more likely that he actually lived.
Because of how little most people know of Bran the Builder, and how important he is to the current events of the story, we’ve compiled 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Bran The Builder.
15. Storm’s End
Storm’s End is known as the ancestral seat of House Baratheon, one of the focal houses in Game of Thrones. They touch on its origins a bit in the show – specifically the castle’s designer, Durran.
Durran was the first Storm King, who, according to legend, declared war on the gods for sending a storm that killed his family during his daughter’s wedding.
The rest of the story reads something like The Three Little Pigs. Durran built castle after castle, but each was destroyed by the storms. Finally, he built Storm’s End with the help of a legendary figure.
14. Was it Bran the Builder?
Legacies and lore in the world of Game of Thrones is a lot like in our own world. All they have is the scholarly writings to tell them what happened, and these can’t always be taken at face value.
There are multiple disputes over the legacy of Bran the Builder. For instance, the previous story of the creation of Storm’s End is in question. Many say that it wasn’t one man at all. They say that the accomplishments of Bran the Builder were wrongly attributed to one man, and that the reality is that there were multiple people involved.
We know that Bran is one of, if not the, most popular name for Starks and in all of the North. It’s possible that history has clumped a bunch of great accomplishments together and given it to one man, instead of spreading it out over decades or even centuries of work.
13. Where Did He Come From?
Not much is known about where Bran the Builder came from, and anything that is “known” is merely an educated guess. There are some popular theories surrounding the real identity of the first Bran Stark (more on this ahead), but for now we’ll focus on what the characters in the story believe.
The most popular origin story for Bran the Builder is that he’s one of the sons of the legendary Garth Greenhand. Garth Greenhand was one of the First Men, and lived during the Age of Heroes. Because this was so long ago, there is very little reputable material that can give an adequate summation of his accomplishments.
Most of the houses in The Reach claim to be descendants of Garth Greenhand, but The World of Ice and Fire publication was the first time we’ve seen Bran the Builder linked to him.
12. Brandon’s Gift
Brandon’s Gift, also known as “The Gift,” refers to the land that stretches from the south of the Wall. This is part of the Night’s Watch’s property, and holds no allegiance to any house in the realm. People live in this region, and while they’re culturally part of the North, they are governed by the Night’s Watch instead of Winterfell.
The Night’s Watch were given The Gift by King Brandon Stark of Winterfell. It’s believed that the land was given to them when the Wall was erected, which means that Bran the Builder is the most likely candidate for the person who gave the land away.
Of course, as is the case with so many events from ancient history, many of the maesters dispute this claim. They say that it’s far more likely that a second Brandon Stark was the one who gave the Gift to the Night’s Watch.
11. Did He Ever Exist?
One of the most interesting theories surrounding Bran the Builder is that he may not have even ever existed.
Many of the maesters in Westeros are skeptical that Bran the Builder was capable of completing all of these feats in one lifetime, leading them to believe that more than one person may be behind building the Wall, Winterfell, Storm’s End, and all of the other places he’s said to have built.
The most concrete piece of evidence to support this idea is what George R.R. Martin said himself. He’s said that people like Bran the Builder and Garth Greenhand are like Noah and Gilgamesh for us. They’re a part of legend, but that doesn’t mean they ever actually existed. Of course, there are no dragons or zombie armies in our world either.
10. How the Wall was Built
One of Bran the Builder’s most famous accomplishments is building the Wall. According to legend, the Wall was built after the first Long Night. This was the first time that the First Men met the White Walkers and The Others (in the books there is a greater distinction between the zombies and their masters).
Once the First Men joined forces with the Children of the Forest, they forced the Others back and built the wall to protect the living from the living dead. Bran the Builder reportedly erected the wall with the help of the Children of the Forest and Giants. It’s 700 feet tall and 300 miles along.
It is widely recognized that there is some type of ancient magic built into the Wall. It could have been due to the help of the Children, but some say it has more to do with Bran the Builder. After all, this is not the only building that is said to have magical properties.
9. The First King of Winter
Since all of these events happened so long ago, it’s hard to verify that anything in the history books are true. That being said, it’s popularly believed that Bran the Builder was the original member of house Stark.
He is the one who is credited with building Winterfell – though much of the castle was added after his death. Because of his influence, the name Brandon appears throughout the history of the North, in the Stark family and in other ancient houses.
No one can be certain that Bran the Builder was the original founder of the house, as some speculate that building Winterfell isn’t the same as ruling it. Either way, it’s a widely accepted belief that Bran the Builder was the first King in the North.
8. We May Know More About Him Than We Think
One of the fan theories that’s gaining traction is that we’ve seen the entire history of Bran the Builder unfold in front of us. Many fans are of the belief that our old friend Bran Stark, aka the current Three-Eyed Raven, is actually Bran the Builder.
The scene that drives this idea is the scene where Bran wargs into Hodor while they’re fleeing from the White Walkers. This scene establishes Bran’s ability to travel to the past – possibly in a physical form – and manipulate the environment.
Of course, Hodor has been unable to speak for as long as Bran was alive. Changing the past doesn’t necessarily mean changing the future. It only means that Bran might be responsible for the history of House Stark, as well as helping to put an end to the first Long Night.
7. Other Historically Significant Brandon Starks
Bran is the most popular name in Stark history, which means that multiple Brandon Starks made their mark throughout history. Another famous Brandon Stark was also responsible for pushing back against the Night’s King (a bit different in the books than in the show), and allying with the King Beyond the Wall.
Much like Jon, Bran “The Breaker” was the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch who allied himself with the Wildlings to fight back against the Night’s King and his corpse bride.
The previous theory extends to this and other Brandon Starks throughout history. It’s believed that our Bran might have traveled back to this time, and faced the White Walkers with the knowledge he brought from the present. This would make sense, especially since this Brandon Stark used a similar strategy as Jon Snow.
6. Crypts of Winterfell
The crypts of Winterfell are lining up to be one of the most important aspects of the entire story. They aren’t as stressed as heavily in the show, meaning they may not be so important in that telling, but anyone who has read the books (and spent a bit of time researching online) is familiar with their significance.
By the way the story hints at the crypts, it’s clear that there’s something important going on down there. We know that Bran didn’t build all of Winterfell, but he did build the crypts. The crypts are said to be as large as the castle, and no living person has explored them to their depths.
Theories range from a possible dragon living in these crypts (due to the hot spring on which they live), to something signifying Jon Snow’s true lineage. It’s possible, though, that these crypts were created by Bran the Builder to aid in the fight against the Others.
5. Children of the Forest
Bran the Builder, if we accept that he did exist, was one incredible man. He’s credited with building almost every major structure that was in place before the Targaryens took over. Of course, he may not have been the one to build all of them, but he had to have some help if it was him.
Many of the buildings Bran the Builder is credited with helping build have some sort of magical power built into them. The Wall is the biggest example, but even Storm’s End is said to be built with spells infused in the stone in order to keep the storms at bay.
Almost every monolithic structure Bran had a hand in building was also aided by the Children of the Forest. It’s not clear what his relationship with the Children was, but he was clearly involved with them, and trusted by the group where other humans were not.
4. The Purpose of Winterfell
As previously state, most of the buildings Bran the Builder commissioned were, in some way, rumored to be magical. Though many of his accomplishments can be thrown into question, Bran the Builder most likely existed in some form, and had a hand in building the Wall, Winterfell, and Storm’s End at least.
For some reason, the same level of supernatural suspicion is not given to Winterfell. As many Reddit posts will tell you, this is probably a mistake.
There is no reason to think that Winterfell is any different than these other magical castles. We haven’t been given a reason for why it was built, but some are speculating that it must have something to do with stopping the Great Other (or the Night King for Game of Thrones fans).
If the lore of the Seven Kingdoms is to be believed, then Bran the Builder lent his handiwork to nearly every major house in the realm. House Hightower is one of the most ancient, but it wasn’t until they converted their massive castle to stone that it became a proper house for a noble lord.
The castle of Hightower serves as a lighthouse for ships in the night or in a storm. It was originally made of wood, but was converted to stone and rose 800 feet high. This makes the castle the tallest building in Westeros, even taller than the Wall.
It may be because of the sheer magnitude of the project that Bran the Builder is credited with its design, but many maesters dispute the claim, saying it was Bran’s son – also named Brandon – who was behind its design. Either way, Bran the Builder being linked to this castle could prove significant in the long run.
2. There Must Always Be a Stark in Winterfell
Have you ever stopped and wondered, “Why must there always be a Stark in Winterfell?” This is one of the aspects of the show and the books that doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other recurring lines and themes.
No one truly knows what it means, but most people are on the same page about it. The characters say this line too often for it to be mere superstition. There has to be something bigger going on with Starks in Winterfell.
One of the most rational arguments has to do with Bran the Builder. Bran the Builder was the founder of House Stark, and undoubtedly assisted in the erection of the wall and the defense against the White Walkers. He built Winterfell for a reason, and tasked his ancestors with guarding the area.
In Bran the Builder’s eyes, the Starks could be positioned as the guardians of the realm. They are on the front lines in the fight against the Great Other, and Bran the Builder knew he’d need to keep a Stark in that seat.
1. What Did Bran the Builder Know?
Did Bran the Builder have some sort of secret knowledge that wasn’t available to the rest of the world? if you look at all he’s completed during his lifetime, then the most logical answer is probably “yes.”
The theory that our Bran has traveled back in time to contribute to the history of Westeros may seem far-fetched to some, but in many ways it makes perfect sense. When Bran wargs into Hodor, we see that Bran can affect the past, but that doesn’t mean he can change anything.
Hodor was always going to be a simpleton. Bran went back in time and caused the problem, but he never changed the past, only made what already happened happen again. It’s a bit confusing, but if the Bran we know is Bran the Builder, then he has all of the knowledge of future generations.
This knowledge will allow Bran to participate in building structures that he knows will last for thousands of years. Bran the Builder most likely had this secret knowledge because he’s lived it in the future. This could be another reason why he’s trusted by the Children of the Forest.
Do you have any knowledge or theories about Bran the Builder from Game of Thrones to share? Leave them in the comments!
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